A few years ago, I wrote a book called 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. I’ve received thousands of emails over the years from readers telling me which “thing” they struggled with the most. The struggle people seem to be able to relate to most, is number two–mentally strong people don’t give away their power.

It’s something we all do sometimes. Maybe you let your co-worker’s bad mood ruin your day. Or perhaps you let someone’s criticism damage your self-image.

Any time you allow someone to have a negative influence over the way you think, feel, or behave, you give them power over your life. It will rob you of the mental strength you need to reach your greatest potential.

Sometimes, it’s obvious when you give up your power. Losing your cool and doing something you regret is a prime example.

But it’s also possible to give up your power in more subtle ways. You might not even realize you’re doing it.

Here are 10 ways you might be giving away your personal power without even realizing t:

1. You give in to guilt trips.

If you change your behavior because someone tugs at your heart strings, you give that individual power over you. Speak up, stick to your word, and don’t give in even when someone tries to play on your emotions.

2. You allow someone else’s opinion of you to dictate your self-worth.

Some people won’t like you and some people won’t like your choices. You don’t have to let their opinions affect how you feel about yourself, however. Feeling bad about yourself based on what someone says or how that person feels about you gives that person too much power over you.

3. You don’t establish healthy boundaries.

You decide who to allow into your life. If you grow resentful of people who take up too much of your energy, it’s a sign you aren’t setting clear boundaries. Establish clear physical, emotional, and financial boundaries.

4. You complain about all the things you have to do.

You also get to choose what to do with your time. You aren’t forced to go to work, see the doctor, or attend a family gathering. There will be consequences if you don’t do some of those things, but they’re still choices.

5. You hold grudges.

A grudge won’t diminish the other person’s life, but it can wreak havoc on your own. Holding on to anger from the past allows an individual to occupy space in your life. That’s not to say you need to allow toxic people into your life–you shouldn’t. Just don’t waste your mental resources on them.

6. You change your goals because you were rejected.

Giving up after being rejected gives an individual the power to determine what you’ll do with your life. Whether you got passed up for a promotion or turned down for a collaborative project, don’t give up. Just because other people don’t recognize your potential doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.

7. You set out to prove someone wrong.

When someone doubts you, it can be tempting to set out to prove them wrong. Make sure your purpose is about your desire to succeed, not about convincing people that you’re more valuable than they gave you credit for.

8. You let other people bring out the worst in you.

You’re going to run into people who have the ability to bring out the worst in you. These individuals may provoke you to say things you regret or pressure you to do things you wouldn’t normally do. Stay true to your values and refuse to let others have a negative influence over you.

9. You invest time into talking about people that you don’t like.

Every minute you spend thinking about someone you don’t like, or complaining about someone you don’t want to be around, is 60 more seconds you give that person. Dwelling on negative people allows them power over your mind.

10. You work hard to avoid criticism.

Feedback from others can be instrumental in helping you become your best. If you value other people’s input too much, however, you may avoid doing anything that could lead to criticism. It’s impossible to live your best life when you’re focused on pleasing people.

How to Take Back Your Power

If you notice that you’re giving away your power, you’re not alone. Everyone does it sometimes. The good news is, it’s never too late to start taking back your power.

Commit to becoming the driver–rather than the passenger–in your life. Make a conscious effort to stay in control of how you think, feel, and behave and you’ll help build the mental muscle you need to reach your greatest potential.

Originally published at www.inc.com